The Heart & Soul Academy provides access to educational online classes and in-person retreats to enable groups of people from around the world to come together, and make significant behavioral changes relating to hair pulling, skin picking, and other body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs).

The Heart & Soul Academy is a federally registered non-profit institution established to expand resources for the BFRB Community. Deeply grounded in support of the scientific approach, with a long history of actions to verify this, the founders of the Academy feel strongly there is a large and very important gap in current treatment models that should be addressed: The need for an intentional integration of one’s spiritual life, family life, work life, and sense of self-awareness; into an authentic, life-long recovery process; much more comprehensively than is currently being taught.

Today, there are many practical and useful approaches, skill sets and tools that have been found to help relieve BFRBs related suffering to various degrees. The main Academy goal is to develop integrated courses in some of these areas to provide templates of helpful concepts, strategies and lifestyle changes for the BFRB community, and make these available to those who are interested.

With this in mind, our courses draw from the wealth of scientific knowledge available today, as well as from various spiritual, energy-based, and inner work traditions that have been found to benefit humans for millennia, but may not be evidence-based (yet- but you can help with this!)

As our main goal is reducing BFRB-related suffering, we recognize the importance of accurately identifying what works and what doesn’t. The Academy is committed to tracking the impact of its courses through collection of accurate data using validated rating instruments filled out by students before, during and after each course to expand knowledge in the field.

View Christina Pearson's "Welcome to the Heart and Soul Academy"

Board of Directors

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Christina Pearson

President and Visionary Director

Christina Pearson grew up suffering terribly from both hair pulling and skin picking. At the age of 33, discovering she was not alone, she set out to contact other sufferers, create resources and stimulate scientific research. In 1990, she founded the Trichotillomania Learning Center, now known as the TLC Foundation for BFRBs. Through her leadership and heart-based guidance, leading researchers and clinicians came together in order to create a collaborative Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).

The TLC SAB went on to validate the significance of the public health impact of BFRBs, and highlighted the need for rigorous scientific research. This was groundbreaking work that altered forever medical and therapeutic understanding of BFRBs. Christina was also responsible for setting up the world’s first Research Fund for BFRBs, and the organization she founded went on to fund numerous research projects inspiring many young investigators to become involved in the field.

She created the quarterly newsletter, InTouch, the Annual Conference, the Annual BFRB Retreat, along with one-day workshops, all as part of her outreach to other sufferers. Leaving TLC in early 2013, she turned her attention toward what she calls “Phase 2” of her service to the BFRB Community, establishing the Heart and Soul Academy with two other Founding members, Fred Bartlett and Barbara Stober in 2014


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Fred Bartlett


Fred Bartlett grew up suffering from hair pulling since the age of fifteen. Since adulthood, helping people with trichotillomania has been a major focus. Fred’s background is in business, but his heart was moved to become a Chaplain.  Introduced to Christina’s work in 1994, he has since worked closely with her as an advisor to the TLC, and now at the Heart & Soul Academy. He has reached out to others individually, and through a support group, presented lectures at TLC conferences and the Annual BFRB Retreats, and has greatly furthered scientific research. 

Fred initiated and funded the first Trichotillomania Genetics Study and the first major Trichotillomania Family Study through Harvard’s Medical School. Retired now, he practiced for many years as a Chaplain in a general hospital providing comfort, insight and solace to many. His decades-long work for the well-being of others has been instrumental in helping to expand the outreach of Trichotillomania ministries, and greatly increasing scientific understanding of BRFBs. Fred is committed to developing the Academy as a healing resource. In his experience, having access to heart-based healing, along with accurate information, is vitally important for helping BFRB sufferers and their families.


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Barbara Stober


Barbara Stober suffered tremendously from childhood on from hair pulling, which had a huge negative impact in every area of her life.  As a result of seeing Christina Pearson talk about trichotillomania on a local talk show in 1990, Barbara became a founding board member of the Trichotillomania Learning Center. Working for over three decades as a lead store keeper for Boeing airplane parts while she raised two boys as a single mom.

Growing the majority of her natural hair back, she emerged from wearing a wig for 20 plus years, presenting her experiences at conferences, annual retreats and regional events. Barbara was also a participant in the world’s first documentary on trichotillomania created in the early 90’s. Her loving support, wisdom, and tireless service has been, and will continue to be, of great service to the BFRB community.


Academy Staff

Erica Withersoon

Erica Witherspoon

Director of Miracles & Technology

Erica Witherspoon suffered from skin picking since the age of 14. After attending her first class with Christina Pearson, Erica felt a strong calling to support others who were struggling with BFRBs, as she once did. She is now working part-time as the Director of Miracles and Technology for the Heart and Soul Academy and is very passionate about the work that she does today. Erica’s primary responsibilities include; platform architecture, web design and development, global marketing, social media outreach, communications, and whatever else comes up! Previously, Erica worked for 15 years as Technical Project Manager and Release Manager for some of the world's largest technology companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, and Nintendo. In her free time, you'll find Erica outdoors hiking, biking, and paddling with her two dogs.